Column: Students Potential In New School Year

September 9, 2015

[Opinion column written by Glenn Fubler]

The start of a new School Year is an important milestone in every society; a reminder of the vital importance of nurturing and developing our minds. This is central for an island in which the only resource is its people, as the 21st Century ushers in the Knowledge Age.

While learning begins from birth, it goes without saying that school plays a key role in a child’s development. Each September affords school students an opportunity to reboot their journey to master skills that provide their foundation for a lifetime of learning. There are numerous stories of students who have used the ‘new beginning’ of September, to work towards transforming their lives.

Thomas Edison’s school teacher reported that he had an ‘addled’ mind. Edison did not let this negative assessment define who he was. Supported by family, the episode became a ‘new beginning’, eventually leading him to become an inventor who helped to change the world. Edison’s love of learning led him to create over 1,000 new inventions; from the light bulb to the movie camera.

Albert Einstein failed in his first attempt at the entrance exam for the Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich. Subsequently he addressed challenges to his progress at the graduate level.

However, Einstein recognized that those set-backs provided an opportunity for a ‘new beginning’ and supported by some professors, his passion for learning led him to become the greatest mind of the 20th Century.

The lives of these two giants, offer a hint of the potential in all of us. Edison made the point that any ‘genius’ that he displayed was ‘.. 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration’; reminding us of the importance of effort.

Einstein always retained a child-like awe and wonder about the mysteries of the Universe. He once told some young students; “Don’t worry about your problems with math; I assure you that I had problems also.” This genius was letting those students know about their own potential.

Khan Academy, a leading educational provider in the new wave of free-online support for learning, has a slogan for all users; “You Can Learn Anything!” This reflects the sentiment that Einstein was sharing with that group of students, decades ago.

Khan Academy’s “You Can Learn Anything” video

It parallel’s findings shared by Harvard Professor of Neurology Rudolph Tanzi, in his best-seller “Super Brain – Unleash the Power of Your Mind”, that the human brain .. can only do what it thinks it can do.

Tanzi goes on to document the power of a nurturing environment as the biggest factor for maximizing the potential and capacity of our Minds.

As students in Bermuda begin this new school year, they should be reminded of their potential. Sharing stories with them, of how failures becoming a gateway to ‘new beginnings’, can provide them with the inspiration to use their ‘perspiration’. Edison ‘failed’ at hundreds of prototypes before concluding with the light bulb.

At its core, education requires a collaboration – it takes a village.. The degree to which we work together across the village determines the collective power unleashed.

Local stakeholders have the opportunity to join a new global movement – free online support such as Khan Academy – in order for our community to maximize the potential manifested through ‘new beginnings’.

- Glenn Fubler

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